The world’s first ever emojis are on display at MoMA because, art

Art is subjective, of course, but the world’s first ever emojis have been acquired by MoMA and—OMG—what a time to be alive! That’s right! As stated in the New York Times, the whole 176 clan of emojis shown on a 12×12 pixel grid system will be part of the Museum of Modern Art’s collection because, art! The original design, called “glyphs,” were designed by Shigetaka Kurita to use for pagers via a Japanese mobile carrier and we know what you’re thinking— and no—they weren’t intended for the way we use them today.

Released in 1999, the purpose was primarily to give info, like weather reports (sun, lightning bolt, snowman, and umbrella). They were also used to entice customers through pager usage (hamburger or martini emoji, anyone?). As the first “pictographs” in mobile technology, MoMA’s plan is to show the emoji glyph in the lobby with the use of 2-D and animation because again, art! You can’t argue with that!

We're thrilled to announce the addition of NTT DOCOMO’s original set of 176 emoji to our collection! 👍 😀 🎉

With the emojis we know and love today, it’s hard to believe these little guys were once once so primitive. Initially they were black and white only, but eventually they morphed into red, orange, lilac, blue, and green, but nothing like we have today. #blessed

You can see the display starting in December. Senior curator in the department of architecture and design, Paola Antonelli, hopes they’ll add to the collection at some point.

“In a sense, what we’ve really acquired is a new communication platform. But at the same time, the emoji themselves are ideographs, one of the most ancient ways to communicate. I love how the centuries are connected in that way.

It’s pretty cool to think of how far back emojis go. From basic shapes to the most intricate portraits of our favorite artists-turned-emoji. We have totally evolved, people! So, next time you pull out your phone to use one, give a silent little thank you to our emoji creators for giving us another way to connect (without actually speaking)!

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